Library of Doom Review No 7
Schirmer's Headhunters by Leo Kessler
Leo Kessler is actually British Author Charles Whiting . I urge you to check out his website,. Although it has not been updated for some time now, it gives you an idea of how prolific an author he was. Just take a look at his listing on fantastic fiction and you will get a snapshot!
Thanks for reading Bloody Pens and Sleepless Nights! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
This guy powered out books. At one point his publisher asked him to slow down as they couldn’t keep up with his output!! Brilliant.
No 16 in the Wotan series ( he wrote 28 in all) the book starts with Kessler interviewing Schirmer in an old peoples home and then flashes back straight into the story. This is not a book written back in the early 1980’s, without any concerns about political correctness, so be warned. ..you are not meant to like any of these guys. They are horrible. A team of dreadful misfits. They each have there awful characteristics ( torture, rape, violence , child murder) and there is no escaping that everyone in this book, including Schirmer, are a shower of evil bastards. I didn’t realise this was set in Vietnam and Schirmer and his colleagues have escaped capture in Germany and are now mercenaries for the French authorities in Indochina. Hired to help as the French power collapses ( before the Americans entered the war) The team are sent to kill off the Viet Cong bad guys in Massacre Valley and are then abandoned to make it back on there own. That’s it. Nothing more. What ensues is a brutal, hot bullet ripped, skull crushing, gore drenched battle interspersed with the French authorities discussing what’s happening . Kessler/Whiting had a knack of doing this Officer talk, which was always boring and jarred with the super violent battles of human destruction in all it’s horrible detail.
It follows Kessler’s usual tropes and was a master of his genre. The usual boring officer talk, as mentioned earlier, and his characters can be a little 2 dimensional. However, this was not written to win awards but to entertain he did know how to write a gripping battle scene. These are nail biting ,tense, sweltering heat filled, jungle action set ups just dripping with sweat, blood and rain. The action just builds up as a game of cat and mouse ensues between Schirmer’s team and the seemingly hundreds of Viet Cong soldiers known as The Death Volunteers and there leader ( with a melted face like something out of a horror movie)
By the end, you don’t really care who lives and dies as they are all dreadful characters, but it certainly is an absolute hoot reading this. Certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and some of the gory death scenes even had me wincing. If you are easily offended or find extreme gore off putting, I’d give this a miss! Kessler/ Whiting was a master of his craft and I do recommend this one if you are looking for a violent, action packed and thoroughly entertaining read!!